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Mert Davis (US Navy, Korea)
2011 | Prescott, AZ
Merwyn "Mert" Davis
Birth date: September 13, 1932
Death date: January 01, 2011
Mert Davis, Cowboy, or...what?
You would have rarely found Mert Davis in anything other than one of his many cowboy hats, cowboy boots and cowboy shirts and pants. You just know that he had to be born in the back of a chuck wagon or next to a campfire out on the range. Actually Merwyn Culy Davis was born in Pendleton, Indiana in 1932. He was next to the youngest in a family that included 6 boys and 4 girls. His mother, Amadeo, was a typical mother of the time that cooked, quilted, sewed and guided the development of her large family. His father, Dean was a very successful inventor and when Mert was four moved the family to Oak Park, Illinois to build his first factory in Chicago. Mert's father became a successful businessman and eventually owned two factories that manufactured electrical coils. Everyone can thank Mert's dad for inventing the early mercury switch. Dean's success was reflected in the large house designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright that his father bought for the family. Mert’s house was the only house in the neighborhood that had its own ballroom on the third floor. He had fond memories of the dumbwaiter the kids loved to ride in. However, due to his father's business interests and travel, Dean was frequently away and spent limited time with his children.
Although some of Mert’s older brothers worked in their father's factory, Mert was too young. Unfortunately, an auto accident ended his father's life when Mert was ten years old. Mert continued his schooling until his junior year in high school. After quitting school his first jobs were as a tree trimmer and laborer for a bricklayer. 1950 marked the start of the Korean War and at the age of 18, he and two buddies as a patriotic move joined the Navy. Following boot camp and radio school, Mert was assigned as Radioman on the Icebreaker, USS Atka. He traveled to Greenland and then Antarctica as part of the last of Admiral Byrd's South Pole expeditions. Mert used to say two things about that adventure: “It was really cold, and leaving the ship to drink beer on the ice pack, you had to drink your beer fast before it froze!" Mert remained in the Navy for four years and in a remarkable chain of rapid advancements, at the age of 22, Mert left the Navy as a first class petty officer.
Once out of the Navy, he did what many young men do, he bought his first car, a 1955 Ford Crown Victoria, and in 1956 got married. He also went to work for his older brother who had opened his own coil manufacturing company in his garage. Mert was the only employee and remained there for about 4 years. When Mert left, there were about fifty employees and the company was doing well. Mert found work in another larger coil company, Ensign Coil, located in Chicago IL. He remained there for approximately 4 years. During that time he opened (started) two branch companies for Ensign Coil that were located in Bellevue, IA and Cascade, IA. He later was offered a partnership opportunity in another coil company. The company was heavily in debt and Mert had no money. So he struck the deal to assume half the company's debt in exchange for half the ownership. The company prospered due to his better management and because he was able to personally design and build revolutionary coil making machines at a fraction of the cost of purchasing them. Mert's coil making machines gave them a huge edge with their competition. By the late 60’s he had a growing desire to be on his own. So he gave his portion of ownership to his partner for a token amount with the understanding he would not compete against Mert, or do business with his customers. Taking some of his coil making machines with him, Mert headed west to Arizona.
After arriving in Arizona, he looked around and found a small building in Arizona City which is near Casa Grande and started the M. C, Davis Company. He had acquired a contract to manufacture coils for the Shure Company. At the time Shure was a major maker of stereo cartridges for record players. Mert's small number of employees, using the machines that Mert had designed and made produced millions of coils for the Shure Company. The M. C. Davis Company also made coils for a brand new product called bubble memory for computers. His customers included IBM, Intel, AT&T, Motorola, Rockwell etc. Once again, Mert's secret was that his coil machines could produce coils at a fraction of the cost than that of other coil machines.
As his business grew, Mert enlarged his factory several times. He then created a factory across the border in Agua Prieta, Mexico to handle the increased volume of business. Traveling between his Arizona and Mexico plants allowed a new turn in Mert's life. He decided to take up flying and bought the first of four planes he had owned over the years. About that time Mert’s marriage of 25 years ended in divorce. While running his business in Arizona City, he frequently found brief moments to go to Casa Grande and pal around with his friends in a local watering hole. At one of these gatherings, Mert met a striking young woman who was part of that crowd and had also just ended her marriage. Her name was Shirley Espe. One evening, when the partying broke up, Shirley found that someone had cut the cables and stolen the battery from her car. Mert offered to drive her home. For more than 30 years Mert and Shirley were soul mates.
One trip to his Mexico factory stood out in Mert's memory. He chose to spend a night in The Gadsden Hotel in Douglas, AZ. The Gadsden was referred to as “the Last of the Grand Hotels”. Its past grandeur was evident but long past. He was told that in the old days, hotel guests stood on the rooftop and witnessed border gun battles involving Poncho Villa. In any event, Mert fell in love with the place and after a long night of partying he bought the Gadsden Hotel. Mert found as owner, it was a costly venture and quickly sold it. He told his friends, "Never buy a Hotel when you have a hangover." The Gadsden is still there should anyone venture to Douglas.
With the introduction of the 8-track players and the gradual demise of the phonograph, Shure's demand for Mert’s coils declined. Mert and Shirley also decided it was time for something new. So in 1983, after selling his coil company, Mert bought the CV Ranch and his first cowboy hat. Mert and Shirley moved to his 20,000-acre ranch, which is located about 30 miles north of Prescott. This ranch had been purchased as a tax shelter back in 1971. He vaguely remembered being told that under his new ranch land there was lots of water. Later he added to his ranch and bought a 30,000- acre ranch that adjoined the CV known as the CF Ranch. Mert and Shirley worked shoulder to shoulder with their ranch hands improving the ranch, creating their ranch home and raising cattle. Mert built an air strip and got to fly his plane out to far flung locations during 'Round Up'.
At one point the CV Ranch was home to about 700 cows. Due to the limited natural feed available and local state lease land regulations, it took about 60 acres to feed one cow. Mert later decided to try raising buffalo on the CV Ranch. Their buffalo herd grew to about 60 head. A few trophy hunters paid Mert to hunt buffalo on his ranch. However, because buffalo were so hard to control and keep penned on the ranch, Mert and Shirley with their cowboys had to install 10 miles of electric fence. They finally decided to get rid of the furry beasts and sold them to some Wyoming buyers. On the day the buffalo were to be shipped to their new homes, the cattle trucks arrived to load the herd; they discovered that two of the buffalo were missing. The trucks had to leave without the missing two. That afternoon Mert and Shirley were driving into Paulden when they saw the errant beasts walking down the highway. Shirley said they were probably heading for Wyoming. But Mert quickly learned they were heading the wrong way and could create a major danger to the people living in the area. So with the help of their ranch cowboys, the ornery critters were herded back to the CV. Mert called a Chino Valley butcher and sold the animals for meat. In their current living room, you'll find the mounted head of one of those buffalo. Moral: Don't miss the bus!
In the meantime, Mert bought several more ranches as family investments in northern Arizona. These were bought and later resold in small parcels. During this time, while living at the CV Ranch, Mert and Shirley had many adventures. They built a car for Shirley: a 52 MG kit car. In 1987 they bought land in Colorado and built a log home which they visited during breaks in the winter. Mert invented and built a new machine. It was a Tenon machine which greatly reduced the time and labor of handcutting log ends. They named the new machine 'Woofer' and say it was Martini-inspired while playing PacMan. Mert gifted his Woofer to the grateful contractor building his new log home.
During a visit to Prescott's City Hall Mert happened to mention that he had a lot of water under his ranch land. The city of Prescott was looking for an additional water source for the growing city and they approached Mert to consider selling his CV Ranch. Lengthy negotiations followed and the sale was almost made. But the city changed its mind and decided to buy a neighboring 5,000-acre ranch for its water. Mert was puzzled that Prescott bought a 5,000-acre ranch when they could have had his 50,000 acres for a similar price. Within a couple of years, Mert found a new buyer for the CV. Mert and Shirley then left Ranching behind for a new lifestyle. Mert and Shirley lived on the CV Ranch for 15 years.
During the time when they were trying to sell the Ranch, Mert and Shirley had been shopping around Prescott for land to build a new 'city' home. They settled on the Ranch at Prescott. In 1997/98 they built their first home in the Ranch on Windspirit Cr. They found they really liked living there because of the wonderful people they met. In 2003, Mert needing more garage space for his much loved machine shop (their first Ranch home didn't have space for one), So Mert built a new home on Moonridge Cr. It should be added that Mert and Shirley installed many 'special' decorator items in their home that they designed themselves and Mert made in his machine shop.
Mert considered himself “retired” and always looked with modest pride at what he accomplished. He was amazed by the good fortune life had dealt him.
There are stories about Mert's philanthropic activities, but he was reluctant to discuss them. However, when pressed, he admitted that he had a strong desire to give something back and had a special interest in helping the local Food Bank. At one time he offered to buy land and build the Food Bank a new facility. However, the PV City officials and Food Bank administrators couldn't agree on where to put the new building. So Mert merely wrote them a check and let them decide. Mert continued to support the Food Bank efforts along with other charitable organizations.
Besides being a successful businessman and rancher Mert, like his father, was a successful inventor. In addition to the various coil manufacturing machines and tools he invented, as a rancher he designed and made a new kind of portable corral. It worked more efficiently while branding cattle because the corral shrank as they branded cows with no need to keep rounding them up. Working together Mert and Shirley also designed and patented an attachment that made it easier to take off cowboy boots.
Mert’s more recent interest was collecting antique cars. He had to enlarge his multi-car garage that is attached to his machine shop to accommodate his six lovingly restored automobiles. Mert and Shirley found life enjoyable and rewarding at the Ranch. Throughout the area they had a wide circle of friends that were entertained at Mert and Shirley's yearly summer Roundup Bar-B-Q. Mert had five children from his first marriage and had made sure that each of them had benefited from all of his ventures.
So the question remains: Mert Davis, Cowboy, or…..what?! He may not have been born and bred a real cowboy, nor has anyone ever reported seein' him slappin' leather in anger, but Mert sure looked like a cowboy! He owned a cattle ranch, done a bunch of branding, been on a lot of cattle roundups; “rode” a horse and.... given enough rope, he could probably have lassoed a cow.
(Written by Joy and Phil Alvarado)
In friendship and with love, Paul and Barbara Connolly, Prescott, AZ.
"Mert and Shirley" Mert Davis and Shirley Espe
2011 | Prescott, AZ
Inventor, Innovator, Interior Designer, avid Classic Car Collector.... Ham Radio Operator, Entrepreneur Extraordinaire; That would be *Mert and Shirley* amazingly original and incredibly talented... both lending expertise to each other to make just about everything they touched, designed and made into a usable and an imaginative item!
Mert Davis and Shirley (Espe) have been our friends since.... well, since about 1989. They lived in Paulden above Prescott, AZ.... we lived near Prescott, but about 10 miles South and at 7000' in a tiny community called Potato Patch in the Bradshaw Mountains (Ther's GOLD in them-thar Hills!). We built our Cabin-home in Arrowhead Ranch Co. and moved there full time, on the Alpine Plateau at 10,000' on the Western Slope of the Rockies. Mert and Shirley built their splendid lodge-type Log Home ... their "Home away from Home" and came often for weeks at a time. It was about a mile from us and out on a bluff with a spectacular long-distance view! Talk about BEAUTIFUL!
It felt like a 7 rough miles down to Hwy 50 from the "Arrowhead Inn" and from there 33 miles in either direction... Montrose to the West, Gunnison to the East. Arrowhead Ranch was a planned community and could not have been more private if we were all situated on the moon!
After the 1st few introductions we discovered they were from the Prescott, AZ. area also and since we returned there every 60 days for a week or two (I still managed 2 Optical Dept.'s for the local MD) ... we staying with them many times... an hour drive in for me but oh-so worth it..... they lived in Cowboy-Heaven and Paul got to go on lots of adventures that included picking up Arrowheads! That would be their CV Ranch (Chino Valley Ranch in Paulden AZ) On weekends I was also treated to lots of adventures.
As time went on, we moved closer and built a new home in Delores, CO.... shortening out trip by 4 hours, but in a few years, we moved back to Granite Oaks in Prescott, AZ. permanently and Paul joined Mert on some out-and-about adventures that included exploring the Diamond 7 Ranch that Mert purchased and another in the White Mountains. We built in Yavapai Hills, only a few miles from their newly built stunning home in Prescott at the RANCH, and several years later they built a bigger and more beautiful , more elegant Santa Fe' style home about a mile away..... Known for their 'famous' ***Cowboy Round-up Get-together*** each Spring. They branched out into wonderful Collectible "Olde" Classic Cars! Mert had quite the collection!
How do you describe two wonderful people? ...... it is an honor and pleasure to say that these two were always welcoming and fun to be around.... we sure had lots of stimulating card-playing times and have shared some of the best meals ever served. Gracious and generous, fun and always enjoyable to be with. It seems nearly impossible to say one name without the other, like us... a matched set. Pure SILVER. Of all of the difficult things we do in life, birth and death are the most important so Mert is not gone.... he is just removed from our sight for a time, waiting and no doubt as ready as ever to welcome us when we reach our time. So until we meet again Mert... Happy Trails to you!
We pray for Peace and Comfort for Mert's family and most especially for Shirley during this difficult time of seperation. May the Lord Bless her and the family with the knowledge that they will be together again soon enough, when the time is just right.
(Paul and) Barbara (Ennis) Connolly PRINCESSBARBI_B25 WWII Historical Researcher, 57th Bomb Wing Researcher and Historian for the 319th and 321st Bomb Groups... the 321st Bomb Group is her Dad/Ed Ennis' WWII B-25 Group in the MTO.@,nsm.com
Mert C Davis
1993 | Paulden AZ
"Mert" Davis and his CV Ranch, Paulden AZMerwyn "Mert" Davis
Merwyn "Mert" Davis died on Jan. 1, 2011, at his home in Prescott, Ariz. He was born Sept. 13, 1932, in Pendelton, Ind., the son of Dean W. and Amadeo (Leonard) Davis. Mert was 78 years old. Mert joined the Navy at the age of 18 at the start of the Korean Conflict. He achieved the impressive rank of first class petty officer as a radioman. Mert moved to Arizona City near Casa Grande in 1968, where he started the M.C. Davis Company to manufacture coils. Mert's secret to success was his invention of coil machines that could produce coils at a fraction of the cost of others.
In 1983, Mert bought the CV Ranch and his first cowboy hat. He became a "part-time cowboy" - one of his favorite titles, along with others that his family and friends share: a pilot, a humble, good man, a philanthropist, a loving father and grandfather. In recent years, Mert was a member of the Yavapai Classic Cruisers and a collector of vintage cars.
Mert is survived by his companion of 30 years, Shirley Espe; sons Curt, Kevin, Keith (Brenda) and Kenny (Patty); daughter Karen (Mark) Helin; sisters Shirley Mungai and Helen Winkler; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be 10 a.m. to noon Friday, Jan. 7, 2011, at the Arizona Ruffner Wakelin Funeral Home, 303 S. Cortez, Prescott.
A funeral Mass will be 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 7, 2011, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 150 Fleury in Prescott.
The family suggests memorials to Yavapai Food Bank, P.O. Box 4151, Prescott, AZ 86302.
US Navy 1st Class Petty Officer Mert Davis, Korea
1950 | Boston, MASS
Mert Davis; US NAVY; Arctic Tours during the Korean War. Radio-Man 1st Class PO
1950 marked the start of the Korean War and at the age of 18, he and two buddies as a patriotic move joined the Navy. Following boot camp and radio school, Mert was assigned as Radioman on the Icebreaker, USS Atka. He traveled to Greenland and then Antarctica as part of the last of Admiral Byrd's South Pole expeditions. Mert used to say two things about that adventure: “It was really cold, and leaving the ship to drink beer on the ice pack, you had to drink your beer fast before it froze!" Mert remained in the Navy for four years and in a remarkable chain of rapid advancements, at the age of 22, Mert left the Navy as a first class petty officer.
USCGC Southwind (WAGB-280) was a Wind-class icebreaker that served in the United States Coast Guard as USCGC Southwind (WAG-280), the Soviet Navy as the Admiral Makarov, the United States Navy as ***** USS Atka (AGB-3) ***** ( She served in the Atlantic fleet and completed three Arctic tours ) ***** and again 1966 in the U.S. Coast Guard as USCGC Southwind (WAGB-280).
U.S.S Atka (AGB-3)
In 1950 the ship was returned to the US Navy and rechristened as USS Atka (AGB-3), after the small Aleutian island of Atka. Upon her arrival at Boston, Atka entered the Boston Naval Shipyard for a thorough overhaul and modernization. The work was completed late in May 1951, and Atka began operations from Boston, Massachusetts in July 1951. Throughout her career in the American navy, the icebreaker followed a routine established by the changing seasons. In the late spring, she would set sail for either the northern or southern polar regions to resupply American and Canadian air bases and weather and radar stations. In early fall, she would return to Boston for upkeep and repairs. In the winter, the ship would sail various routes in the North Atlantic to gather weather data before returning to Boston in early spring for repairs and preparation for her annual polar expedition. The ship often carried civilian scientists who plotted data on ocean currents and ocean water characteristics. They also assembled hydrographic data on the poorly charted polar regions. Atka was also involved in numerous tests of cold weather equipment and survival techniques. She served in the Atlantic fleet and completed three Arctic tours.
ATKA is 269 feet in length, 64 feet in beam, displaces 6500 tons when fully loaded, and has a 29-foot draft. Two stern and one-bow screws driven electrically by 6 Fairbanks Morse 10 cylinder opposed piston diesel engines and associate 1 generators propel her. Her 3 direct driving shaft motors provide a total of 10,000 horsepower astern and armamant consists of one 5-inch caliber dual-purpose gun and four 40MM and eight 20MM antiaircraft machine guns. Her 1 and 5/8 inch armored steel sides protect her from ice damage, her outboard bulkheads and weather decks are insulated internally with a layer of 5 inch and 4 inch cork respectively, and her bow is especially designed to break rather than to cleave ice. In plain words she is designed for work in the ice.